Number two rule about library conferences #blogjune

You talk about library conferences.

There’s none of that Fight Club BS with library peeps- we share everything*, from talking about our services, our projects, tweeting about people talking about their services and projects, to sharing mundane aspects about library life, like the importance of cardigans, comfortable shoes, chocolate, pets and alcohol. Occasionally we share books, or rather loan them!

VALA is a biennial conference, with the last one held in February 2020, just before lockdown commenced. The 2022 one was delayed slightly due to travel restrictions, or possibly a surge in COVID numbers, but for many it was the first conference they had been to for a very long time in a face-to face fashion. Zoom is good, but it’s really hard to replicate those serendipitous encounters you get as you walk to a session.

The program was reduced as some of the presenters scheduled in February were unable to attend in June, and there were fewer people there in person, but it made for a very relaxed and chill first day.

Relaxed and chill was a good way to allay the anxieties about heading down to Melbourne and seeing people face to face, after months of being in a Ballarat bubble. It was great to catch up with people i hadn’t seen in ages, and just sit in a session and hear people talk about Open Access, and LibCal, and consortia deals, and feel part of a great community.

I really missed seeing the skyline, and the Yarra River and it was still light when I left the conference to head back home.

I will be back to Melbourne and to share more stuff!

*When I say everything, I mean everything that is legal and permissible under the Copyright Act. The last thing I want to do is pay a hefty fine…


Number one rule about library conferences #blogjune

Wear comfortable shoes.

I thought my shoes, a rather cute pair of ankle boots were comfortable. Until I walked from my car to the railway station. The walk to the conference centre from Melbourne’s Spencer Street Southern Cross station veered from uncomfortable to agony.

The conference gods smiled on me and whispered ‘DFO is open at 10am’ at which point I hobbled over and purchased a pair of Converse sneakers and bandaids.

While my errant boots did look rather natty with my outfit, I realised it had been a while since they were worn…last year I was recovering from a hip operation, and slippers were more my jam, and in 2020 I was working from home, and slippers were also my jam…so 2019?

Stay tuned for rule two of library conferences tomorrow!

Friday Shoutout 2 #blogjune

You know it’s been a big week when on Tuesday, you’re already thinking it’s one step closer to Friday.

Thank you to two lovely people called Cicy and Kate, who helped support a meeting I was co-convening this week and Jaime who was my fellow co-convenor. It was the first time I had ever done this and it was scary, but adrenalin-inducing, and a huge relief when it was over.

A exclamation of gratitude to my husband for bringing home a book for me to read this weekend, in between finishing off a crochet blanket, taking 17year old to their weekend job and laundry/housework

Cheers to HM Elizabeth II for the provision of a public holiday on Monday, thereby affording us a long weekend this weekend. It’s the only day of the year I am a monarchist 🙂

WTF Thursday #blogjune

I’m a librarian and I’m pissed off.

Yesterday The Guardian reported on the proposal of the ABC to remove librarian and archivist roles, as part of its efforts to streamline and save money with new workflows and automation.

Journalists have their own job investigating, and the use of archival resources is often a necessary part of their work. Their skillset does not extend to making their stories findable beyond a catchy ‘gotcha’ title.

Librarians organise stuff, we describe stuff, we make it easier to find stuff. We help people find stuff, even if that stuff is digitised. A core part of librarian’s roles is to ensure the findability of information through the application of tags and metadata to describe the article, piece of music, or film. By reducing the number of staff in this largely feminine workforce, cultural institutions like the ABC are making access to quality information increasingly difficult, and further damaging the national broadcaster’s ability to be a quality provider of news.

This type of approach to reducing the number of staff is symptomatic of consistent underfunding of national institutions under the former Morrison/Turnbull/Abbott governments. Unless your name was the National War Memorial, you were basically screwed.

The National Archives came under fire for not having enough funding to undertake the basic preservation role, and was only then allocated additional funding for them to undertake urgent in May 2021

Last year the National Portrait Gallery advertised for librarians, in a voluntary capacity. The librarians were acknowledged as being valued, but clearly, not valued enough to pay them for the work that was being described.

The National Library of Australia sent out an email last week to many users of their service, asking for donations to Trove, their digital repository.

I am really tired of having to explain the value of what we do to our end users, whether they be the general public (who think all we do is read books), academics, teachers in schools and members of parliament.

You do not want to piss a librarian off, honestly.


Office space #blogjune

First photo in my current office

When I end up working in an academic library, I got an office. After years of open plan arrangements, it was a godsend. Never mind that the room was a bit big, and that the heater wasn’t particularly up to warming the room in the middle of a Ballarat winter. I had a window I could look out of, a desk where I was not restricted in placing personal items, and a door I could close, or open!

It was a temporary situation, though, and I ended up in my current office, which was supposed to be a temporary situation, but seven years later I’m still here, keeping quiet, and hoping I’m not pressed to leave.

My window has lovely lead lighting and overlooks a silver birch tree, and a garden of roses, as well as a main street which leads to the local hospitals and the fire station. I get to see students and passersby on the footpath, the occasional ambulance and fire engine, with the sirens on. Do bright shiny things distract me? Yes, yes they do.

My work from home outlook while in lockdown or isolation was of an ivy-covered fence, with the occasional butterfly and sparrow. It was pretty quiet, with the exception of teenagers in the outer room, and the interruption of my internet connection with the activation of the microwave. I learned quickly not to schedule meetings during lunch breaks, due to loss of connectivity. My other ‘workmates’ also got quite demanding around 3.30pm demanding to be fed, and the siren call of a finished washing cycle was hard to ignore,

I’m happy to be back in my room of my own, where the internet connection is fairly stable, and I have a whiteboard, and people!

Belfast 2021 #blogjune

The weather was dismal and grey, and what a better time than to watch a black and white fillum on a Sunday afternoon, curled up on the couch?

Belfast is written and directed by Kenneth Branagh, and is based upon his experiences growing up in Belfast. Buddy (Jude Hill), lives with his Ma (Catriona Balfe) and brother Will, in a small street near the Belfast shipyards, while his Da (Jamie Dornan) works across the water in England. Buddy’s life is filled with school, visits with his grandparents, his neighbours, and trips to the cinema. As tensions climb with the Troubles taking hold, Buddy’s life in Belfast with his family and friends is no longer assured.

Ultimately there is a fork in the road for the family, as to should they stay, or leave, as so many people did*.

The film really appears to evoke Belfast in the late 1960s, with that strong sense of community and neighbourhoods that banded together in times of crisis. The accents were spot on, and it felt like I was listening to my relatives. Ciaran Hinds’ pop was attired much as my granda would be, in a shirt and tie, and also one for profound thoughts. Catriona Balfe reminded me in parts of my mum in her fierceness in protecting and scolding Buddy at the same time.

The usage of black and white as a storytelling mechanism felt a bit like Schindler’s List, insofar as it’s reminiscent of the footage that people would have seen and have related to the historic events of riots and unrest, bombings and British troops occupying part of the United Kingdom. While it gives a bit of distance to the events, it still cannot mask the fear or terror when the family is in the midst of the violence. Branagh has also borrowed a bit from westerns in a classic standoff scene between Billy (Colin Morgan) and Da during a tense situation involving British troops.

There were a couple of things which jarred slightly. Despite the fact that they were trying to pay down a hefty tax bill, and were drowning in debt, Da was able to hop back and forth between London and Belfast on the plane pretty regularly- a necessary plot device, no doubt, but an expensive one. And while Ma was very stylish in her miniskirts and sleeveless shell tops (very reminiscent of my mum at that time), would she have been wearing such a summery top at Christmas?

The choice of Van Morrison for pretty much all of the music was a bit…lazy? If you were after a notable Belfast musician, then okay. If you were really wanting to evoke the era and place, I would rather have heard more of the show band style of music that people in Belfast actually went and listened to at that time.

All in all, a thoroughly enjoyable fillum. 4 Bushmills out of 5**

*My parents did, in 1972, emigrated to Australia, taking me as a baby.

** An apt rating system given that Bushmills is from the North and I don’t drink Guinness, which is from Dublin.

Friday Shoutout #blogjune

It’s the end of the working week and what better time, to take stock, reflect, and give thanks to people who have made the world a better place.

Sleep’s plumbing- Thank you for answering your phone, making a time to come out to attend to our blocked shower drain, and turning up at the appointed time. You took your shoes off at the door, were able to fix the issue within 10 minutes, and were very pleasant and friendly to deal with. I now have a functioning shower, much to the delight of my family, who can have longer showers and leave me with no hot water.

YouTube-thank you for hosting informative videos on how to reset your heating system when it goes slightly haywire, for showing how to manage pagination in a long document with multiple section breaks and for allowing me to revisit my teen years with gems such as this-

And finally #librarytwitter, not only for gentle reminders about #blogjune, but also sharing and retweeting about an upcoming role at my place of work- you are all rockstars :).

The past is a foreign country

Manhattan Skyline, June 2014

Google memories have been alerting me to my previous travels recently. This is great as my travel jaunts have been somewhat curtailed in recent times, and allow me to revisit places, people and also this blog, which has been taken out of mothballs for a few posts in the month of June, otherwise knows as #BlogJune

This was taken from a train crossing the East River from Manhattan to Brooklyn as part of the NYC Popfest. I was the logistic person/hanger on for Bart as he wowed his American audiences as part of his band. #Trip2014 was the hashtag used for this trip which involved time in San Francisco and New York over a two week period.

Technology makes it much easier to visit the past now. Rather than hunting down photo albums, you can simply search for a usable image on Google Photos, or use a hashtag to track your activity on a certain topic. With history now captured digitally and more accessible than ever before, it’s also harder to run from…

Dry July 2021 #blogdown

I decided a couple of months ago to participate in Dry July, an event which commits a person to live alcohol-free for a month to raise funds for cancer charities. My rationale was that, if I’m in recovery from an operation, and unable to mix alcohol with medication, I may as well do something worthwhile with that time!

And then a snap 5 day hard lockdown was announced and my first instinct was to reach for a drink (my second instinct was to eat bread- I am addicted to carbs of the TipTop variety). I didn’t touch the drink, but it made me think about how stressful situations such as lockdowns trigger a visceral reaction to drink or to stress eat.

I drank more than usual in the first lockdowns last year. Even as an introvert I did not mind the stay at home, but the daily news, and the necessity of the lockdown made it easy to have a wine, or a gin and tonic at the end of the day. Coupled with the sourdough craze and my daughter’s discovery of stress baking, I gained weight, which has now begun to come off (huzzah!). Needless to say, I did not participate in Dry July last year 🙂

If you can spare a few dollars, please donate to my page. Funds will go to the Ballarat Regional Integrated Cancer Centre.

PS I am not an expert in sobriety, but if you wish to know more, please check out Jill Stark. She is on Instagram and has written extensively about her sobriety and mental health.

In vino veritas

Crutches #blogdown

I have a new hip! It’s a month old today and I am negotiating the world with a crutch, a pick up stick and slip on shoes with a long handled shoe horn.

I occasionally feel like a toddler because I can’t tie my shoelaces, I will coast around a room holding on to furniture or benches and the special toilet seat is really high. Due to my inability to bend at the moment, I am also not doing any meaningful housework like laundry (I have a laundry fairy at the moment). However I can now drive, so yay me!

Lockdown 5 is different in that I’m on personal leave and currently not working from home as in the previous lockdowns. My limited mobility for the last month has also meant that today feels like I’ve been in lockdown for a while anyway, leaving home only for medical reasons.

In this month of recovery, I have relied on a few metaphorical crutches to get me though.

I have been lucky to have a family able to head to the shops for groceries, and the post office, and am thankful for my husband to pick up books from the library. Bart was also able to take time off work to help me in the first week with getting into bed, making me meals, and putting on and off the compression socks I have to wear.

My mum and dad, and sister and brother have visited from Geelong and Melbourne with food and well wishes, and numerous phone calls and messages. Dad and I have been comparing notes on our respective hip replacement surgeries, and has been a fount of advice 🙂

I am using my down time reading all the books I had been meaning to read and have a long list of books for which I am on the reserve list at the local library. Retreating into a book has been an escape from reality mechanism that I have long employed since a child.

Crocheting has been my crafty crutch and it has been a great time to continue with current projects, start new ones and *whisper* buy yarn for new projects. Currently I am doing Crochet Academy by Toni from TLYarnCrafts, which has been a great way to fill in the knowledge gaps about yarn, hooks and stitches so far. Toni has a YouTube Channel through which I discovered her, which mentions crochet hacks, and stitch demonstrations and discussions about yarn and hooks…all great stuff!

Finally, everyone who has messaged, called, sent flowers and cards, thank you- it has meant a lot and has been great to hear from you all.